Posts Tagged ‘Epistemology’

By Bosch Fawstin:

Front Page MagazineI wrote this a few years ago, and I think it’s worth posting again, particularly after the latest jihadist attack in Boston. I noticed, after the attack this week, that a number of people are using more proper terminology to identify this enemy, which is very important in taking on the enemy. I recall watching panel discussions after 9/11, with each panelist using a different term to describe the enemy we face. That annoyed the hell out of me as I think it’s incredibly important to identify the proper terms when speaking about our enemy, and to NEVER create terms, for whatever reason. To me, the only difference between “Islamism” and Islam is three letters. Below I try my best to make the case why we should always call Islam “Islam.”

Continue reading here

Fortunately, and yet unfortunately, one man and the philosophy he follows cannot destroy America alone; it is a metaphysical impossibility. This is unfortunate because the body politic of a society, on the other hand, is capable of destroying (or saving) America depending on the general philosophical principles that they hold and act upon. America’s fate is how important this topic and discussion truly is. Americans have a philosophical choice to make and America rests in the balance. Her fate will depend upon the aggregate choices every American makes — making no choice is one option, but that choice will not prevent any undesired or desired consequences. It will simply defer the conscious selection of America’s outcome to those willing and able to make this imperative decision.

To start this discussion, I will outline and describe the four philosophical categories — Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics — that Barack Obama held during his 2008 Presidential campaign, which the body politic supported at that time as they voted him into office. I will then proceed to highlight the contradiction and provide a non-contradictory alternative. I am hoping that this distinction will aid your decision as to which philosophy to follow; for, man has no choice in possessing a philosophy. Man’s only choice regarding his philosophy is whether his philosophy is consciously weighed and rationally selected, or whether it’s a hodge-podge of random assimilations that his experience happens to expose him to.

Obama begins his belief in metaphysics with a reality that is non-objective. For example, he is quoted as saying, “…[W]e live in a… contradictory world.”[1] This seems simple enough, but Obama further complicates his belief when he says, “Citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality (emphasis mine).”[2] If reality is non-objective, then a logical person might ask, “What’s the point of testing ideas against reality”? Obama’s purpose in claiming that we live in a contradictory world seems to be only to describe that sometimes it’s contradictory and other times it’s not. This is convenient when one says contradictory statements and expects others to overlook it.

Obama’s beliefs in metaphysics direct his beliefs in epistemology. If we always lived in a contradictory world, then we could at least be certain about being uncertain, but since the world is sometimes logically consistent, then one cannot even be certain about their uncertainty. Obama says it best himself when he says, “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty — for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.”[3] Because Obama believes certainty is not possible, reason must be impotent; therefore, he must reach out for other means to discover truth. It is clear that Obama selects feelings and instincts for discovering truth when he says, “…if I could reach those voters directly, frame the issues as I felt them, explain the choices in as truthful a fashion as I knew how, then the people’s instincts for fair play and common sense would bring them around (Emphasis is mine).”[4]

Obama’s beliefs in epistemology logically ties into his beliefs in ethics. If everyone were uncertain about everything, then how could anyone judge the morality of anybody else or how could anybody judge them? This is the foundational premise for moral relativism, especially when Obama says, “…[I]f… my notions of truth and goodness… are as true and good… as yours — then how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?”[5] This “non-cohering society” is what Thomas Hobbes refers to as the war of all against all.

Obama’s belief in man’s natural state of war of all against all necessarily leads to his conclusions in politics — government intervention and constraint. Since men would naturally be at odds against one another given moral relativism, then the government must exist to settle this natural antagonism between men. Obama stated clearly several times that he wants government to do more and individuals to do less, to the point that it must be common knowledge by now. I am not sure to what extent his desire to grow government goes, but here’s an indicator: “Economies collapse despite the best-laid plans.”[6] That seems like a willingness to go beyond any limit imposed by reality or economics, because this argument suggests that the fault lies with reality and not the “best-laid plans.”

Obama’s contradiction arises from the very root of his beliefs, which undercuts and voids the rest of the philosophical framework that he follows. Contradictions do not and cannot exist. Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same respect. The fact Obama thinks contradictions exist is simply his admission to the world that there are errors in his thinking. Contradictions may exist in wording, but not in reality nor conceptually. You will never find one in reality or conceptually and this law of non- contradiction holds true for all true principles. This is what binds ideas to reality.

If we live in a non-contradictory world, then we are free to discover it. Our means to discover truthful knowledge is reason, which is the non-contradictory integration of new information that we acquire through our senses with the rest of our knowledge. Just as our senses can never perceive a contradiction in reality because contradictions cannot exist, the integration of this information should not lead to a contradiction. So if we integrate that information correctly, then our knowledge is also non-contradictory.

Man is not infallible, however, for he is a volitional being. Choice is where the possibility of errors arises. Man is capable of selecting what he believes to be true or not and he can choose the method and standard he uses in determining what is true or not. Errors, therefore, can be made in what man considers true because errors can be made in the method he uses for determining truth. Common experience demonstrates this to all honest inquirers. Fortunately the process of obtaining knowledge through reason is self-correcting if an error is indeed made. The method of correcting errors is to identify and then resolve any contradictions in your thinking.

All knowledge is rooted in observation; therefore, one’s knowledge in ethics, if it is to be rationally validated must be rooted in observation. Our observation of reality and the application of reason force us to see that all living entities under normal conditions act in their self-interest. Plants obtain water, nutrients, and sun in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. Unreasoning animals seek shelter, water and food in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. As soon as their ability isn’t sufficient they die. Once dead no action is possible to them any longer; their body remains, but their life goes out of existence. Man must discover, unlike plants and non-reasoning animals, what is in his self-interest, and his means of discovery is his rational mind. Just as man may make errors in thinking, so he may make errors in what is rationally in his best interest; however, the process is self-correcting for the same reason all false ideas and principle are self- correcting when using reason.

If reality is non-contradictory, if truth is possible to man via reason, and if a rational ethical framework exists, then by life’s standard men can live harmoniously amongst one another so long as they secure their right to act on their rational judgment.

Rights are the proper ethics for man brought into a social/political context. It is their individual requirement of life, but translated into conditions that involve other men. Men act to secure rights because their wellbeing requires that their rights be secured. The means to secure rights is banding together in self-defense — i.e., instituting a government amongst men.

Rights are unalienable and will remain unalienable because man’s interests will always require that they are un-obstructed in a social/political context. The initiation of force against other men works directly against their ability to act in their rational self-interest and it forces them to act or not to act regardless of what their judgment may conclude. Securing rights prevents the initiation of force, thus allowing men to peacefully reason with one another to achieve common goals. This is the natural harmony between rational men.

Men may make errors in thinking and act to violate another’s rights. If this were not the case, then self- defense would have never been conceived in the minds of men. The police exist to neutralize violators of rights domestically, the courts exist bring those who succeed in violating rights to justice, and the military exists to neutralize the violators of their citizen’s rights that reign from foreign forces.

It is important to note at this point, when comparing the two alternatives, that neither set of ideas are original; some of them can be dated as far back as Plato. These philosophical frameworks, however, when assimilated by a society guides that society in a noticeable direction for better or for worse. For example, the classical Greek civilization was driven by Aristotle’s metaphysics (objective reality) and epistemology (reason), which lead to enlightenment and grand achievements in math, science, and art. During the dark ages in Europe, however, Plato’s metaphysics (man’s mind is disconnected from actual reality so who knows what reality truly is) and epistemology (uncertainty or revelation) ruled that society’s beliefs, which lead towards darkness and deterioration. In the 1400s Thomas Aquinas reintroduced Aristotle’s epistemology into European society; it resulted in the renaissance, which I like to think of as the rebirth of reason, and all the natural consequences that go with such a belief — enlightenment and achievement. Our society at present is at this critical juncture again: it’s either going to be Aristotle, the enlightenment and achievement, or Plato, darkness and deterioration.

This brings us back to the main point — America’s fate and the choice you hold. The choice before you, my fellow Americans, lies in this: will you learn from history and move towards enlightenment and achievement or are you willing to surrender the fate of America to those who think that “economies collapse despite the best-laid plans”?
More Obama quotes that supports conclusions reached in this paper regarding the pilosphy he follows can be found here.

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[1] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 56
[2] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 92
[3] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 97
[4] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pgs. 17 and 18
[5] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pgs. 86-87
[6] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 36

I started reading Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming The American Dream,” (TAoH) and I discovered something I did not expect — a logically consistent philosophy. The foundation of this philosophy, however, is based on a false principle. The nature of false principles is that they logically sprout into false corollaries. So Barack Obama’s philosophical framework may be consistent, but it will be consistently false.

It is not one man and his philosophy that’s destroying America; that’s impossible, which is fortunate for mankind in general if you could picture what the world would be like if it wasn’t impossible. It is never one man that drives a nation toward destruction. Take Adolf Hitler for example, he wasn’t the only one in Germany to believe in what he was saying. As for America’s case, the fact that Barack Obama was voted into public office by a majority of voters indicates that the ideas Barack Obama represents resonates with the majority of Americans. A majority of the population holding false principles, in a consistently false philosophical framework, can and will destroy a nation whether it is German or America. It would destroy any nation.

The purpose of this paper is to challenge those false notions that seem to resonate with the majority of Americans in order to break their appeal and suggest an alternative philosophical framework that is based on a true principle and is also logically consistent throughout its corollaries. The method I will use to accomplish this is to quote Barack Obama’s own words in order to describe his philosophy; then I will prove that the principles are false by highlighting contradictions. Finally I will proceed to provide a non-contradictory alternative.

Let us begin with the basic outline of Barack Obama’s philosophical framework:
Metaphysics: non-objective reality, “…we live in a… contradictory world.” (pg. 56, TAoH)
Epistemology: Uncertainty, “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty…” (pg. 97, TAoH)
Ethics: Relativism, “…my notions of truth and goodness… are as true and good… as yours…” (pg. 87, TAoH)
Politics: Bigger Government, “getting more things done.” (pg. 3, TAoH)

Let us continue with a more detailed breakout of the outline.

Metaphysics:
These are quotes from Obama that supports what I have identified as his metaphysical beliefs:

  • “It is precisely the pursuit of ideological purity… that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country.” (pg.40, TAoH) Ideological purity meaning logical consistency in this context; logical meaning non-contradictory.
  • “…maturity to balance idealism with realism.” (pg. 42, TAoH) In this context he attempts to divorce ideas with reality. This suggests there can be no logical consistency between ideas and reality.
  • “At times our values [of individualism and communal values] collide…” These “tensions arise not because we steered the wrong course, but SIMPLY because we live in a contradictory world. (emphasis mine)” (pg. 55-56, TAoH) This again highlights that ideas cannot be consistent with reality.
  • President Obama has this to say about President Lincoln’s hard choice in initiating the civil war: it “was a matter of maintaining within himself the balance between two contradictory ideas…” (pg. 98, TAoH) Again suggesting that contradictions are a part of life and reality.

No sane person explains that we “live in a contradictory world,” without paying lip service to a non-contradictory world.

  • “citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality.” (pg. 92, TAoH) What good would any test of reality be if the results were contradictory because of a contradictory world?
  • When receiving advice from potential Mentor within the senate, Barack Obama discovers that “Most of the advice [he] found useful; occasionally it was CONTRADICTORY (emphasis mine).” (pg. 73, TAoH) The implicit understanding is that contradictory information is false or useless. So it is clear that Barack Obama understand that the world is not always contradictory and contradictions mean that something is false.

His purpose in claiming that we live in a contradictory world seems to be only to describe that sometimes it’s contradictory and other times it’s not. This line of thinking is useful when one says contradictory statements and expects others to overlook it.

Epistemology:
His beliefs in metaphysics lead to his beliefs in epistemology. If we always lived in a contradictory world, then we could at least be certain about being uncertain, but since the world is sometimes logically consistent, then one cannot even be certain about their uncertainty.

  • “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty – for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.” (pg. 97, TAoH)
  • “…all of us are imperfect and can never act with the certainty that God is on our side; and yet at times we must act nonetheless, as if we are certain.” (pg. 98, TAoH)
  • He is very clear that he doesn’t know, “This isn’t to say that I know exactly how to [change our politics and civic life]. I don’t.” (pg. 9, TAoH) Let us take him at his word, and find somebody who does know.
  • “I offer no unifying theory of American government… Instead what I offer is… my own best assessment — based on my experience as a SKEPTIC … (emphasis mine)” (pg. 9, TAoH) Skeptics are historically doubtful of everything. Skepticism is the result of absolute uncertainty.
  • “… [the process of making law in America] suggests that both our individual and collective judgments are at once legitimate and highly fallible.” (pg. 93, TAoH) Is it that difficult to see that such reasoning is driven by uncertainty? Barak Obama continues:
    • “…the process of making law in America compels us to entertain the possibility that we are not always right and to sometimes change our minds;” (pg. 93, TAoH) by what standard should we change our minds? None is given or suggested — just doubt yourself.
    • “[the process of making law in America] challenges us to examine our motives and our interests constantly,” (pg. 93, TAoH) but it does not challenge us to examine the logic within our reasoning?

Because uncertainty is epidemic and reason is helpless to save us, he reaches out for other means to discover the truth. The means he chooses are feelings and instincts:

  • “I find myself returning again and again to my mother’s simple principle — ‘how would that make you FEEL?’ — as a guidepost for my politics… Like any value, EMPATHY must be acted upon. (emphasis mine)” (pg. 67-68 TAoH)
  • “…if I could reach those voters directly, frame the issues as I FELT them, explain the choices in AS TRUTHFUL a fashion as I knew how, then the people’s INSTINCTS for fair play and common sense would bring them around.” (pgs. 17, 18)
  • “the Constitution envisions a road map by which we marry PASSION to reason… (emphasis mine)” (pg. 95, TAoH) Reason is too noble to be influenced and compromise with passion — passion can follow reason, but reason can never follow passion or it ceases to be reason.
  • “[Bill Clinton] INSTINCTIVELY understood…(emphasis mine)” (pg. 34, TAoH)

If I believed such tripe, I would be uncertain about everything too, especially if I had no correct method of thought to guide me and I relied on feelings and instincts. Fortunately we do have a correct method: that method is reason as defined as the non-contradictory integration of information provided by our precepts into the whole of our knowledge and experience.

Ethics:
His beliefs in epistemology consistently ties into his beliefs in ethics. If I was uncertain about everything, then who am I to judge the morality of others and who are they to judge me? This is the foundational premise underlying moral relativism:

  • “…if… my notions of truth and goodness… are as true and good… as yours — then how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?” (pg. 86-87, TAoH) This is what Thomas Hobbes describes as “the war of all against all,” for which Hobbes proposes a solution — “…men would form governments…” (pg. 87, TAoH) This state of war is the natural state of men, were it not for governments — so says Hobbes (and now Barack Obama).  This belief is the sanction for government’s involvement in all of man’s dealings.

Politics:
His beliefs in ethics consistently lead to his conclusions in politics. Since men would naturally be at odds against one another, then the government must decide. It is fairly clear that Barack Obama wants government to do more and individuals to do less:

  • “…[Americans] wanted clean air, clean water… and… they wanted to be able to retire… children should be able to go to college even if their parents aren’t rich”, and “THEY FIGURED GOVERNMENT SHOULD HELP (emphasis mine).” “…I knew once again just why I’d gone into politics.” (pg. 7, TAoH)
  • “…government spending and regulation could serve as vital ingredients… to market growth, and… could help promote social justice.” (pg. 34, TAoH)
  • “…government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all Americans…” (pg. 40, TAoH)
  • “Sometimes only the law can fully vindicate our values…” (pg. 62, TAoH)
  • “…one of the things that makes me a democrat…” is “this idea that our communal values, our sense of mutual responsibility and social solidarity, should express themselves… through our government.” (pg. 63, TAoH)
  • “…I also believe that our government can play a role in shaping… culture for the better…” (pg. 63, TAoH)

I do not know for sure that this desire to expand government has a limit, but here’s an indicator:

  • “Economies collapse despite the best-laid plans.” (pg. 36, TAoH) That seems like a willingness to go past any limit imposed by reality or economics, because the argument suggests that fault lies with reality and not the “best-laid plans.”

No American politician talks about central planning without paying any lip service to the rights of man — knowing, if not consciously then subconsciously, that central planning requires the violation of rights.

  • Obama quotes part of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence (pg.53, TAoH), but stops short of the most essential part, with regard to the purpose men establish government in the first place: “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (DoI)
  • Barack Obama claims that the idea of UNALIENABLE rights is the “substance of our common creed.” (pg.53, TAoH) Then he explains that “individual rights are almost entirely SUBJECT to the self-restraint of [government members], (emphasis mine)” (pg. 53, TAoH) thus contradicting our common creed. Rights are either unalienable or not.
  • He clearly doesn’t think much about securing rights as the legitimate purpose of government when he states, “The legitimacy of our government… depends on the degree to which [self-reliance, self-improvement, risk-taking, drive, discipline, temperance, hard work, thrift, and personal responsibility] are rewarded.” He uses this standard of legitimacy to smuggle in “equal opportunity” and social justice, which necessarily snuffs out rights. (pg. 54-55, TAoH) The security of rights and organized injustice — i.e., equal opportunity and social justice as Barak Obama defines them — cannot exist within the same government action.
  • He then goes on to explain that “…laws constraining liberty…” are legitimate so long as they, “…are uniform, predictable, and transparent…” (pg. 87, TAoH) The germ leading to this conclusion is egalitarianism. Equality of misery will be the only thing this accomplishes.

He succeeded in adhering to a philosophy that pays lip service to unalienable rights, and then proceeds to completely eliminate the idea with contradictions. This is very consistent with his metaphysical beliefs. He proceeds to justify his violation of rights with his understanding, or should I say misunderstanding, of the U.S. Constitution:

  • The statement, “…individual liberties… enshrined in our Constitution…” (pg. 86, TAoH), clearly indicates a misunderstanding of the purpose of our Constitution. Take a look at the wording within the Constitution yourself; the object under focus is the federal government. The Constitution was designed and built to form and limit the legal activities of the federal government — not its citizens. Do not confound identifying preexisting rights and limiting the government’s legal actions around them, which is clearly written within the Constitution, with establishing new rights for its citizens.
  • “I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution — that it is not a static but rather a living document, and must be read in context of an ever-changing world. How could it be otherwise?” (pg.90, TAoH) I’ll answer that. Like most contracts the terms of the agreement are between two or more parties — in this case the People, their States and the proposed Federal Government. These terms cannot change until the contract is changed. There is no living and breathing terms of agreement possible here. Do not confound the amendment process with what Barak Obama is advocating — the former is a process for the different involved parties to adjust the contract and the later is the evasion of identifying any terms within the contract.
  • Another error is Barack Obama’s failure to understand why “[the Constitution] provided no protection to those outside the constitutional circle.” (pg. 95, TAoH) The Constitution is a contract between the citizenry, the States and the Federal Government. How can any contract extend beyond its participants? My best guess is that Barack Obama doesn’t know that the Constitution is a contract or he doesn’t understand the use and limits of contracts.
  • He gives examples of the Constitutional text “lacking” context and uses that as an excuse to alter the terms within the Constitution: “The constitutional text provides us with general principle that we aren’t subject to unreasonable searches by the government. It can’t tell us the founder’s specific views on the reasonableness of an NSA computer data-mining operation.” (pg.90, TAoH) Yes, yes, the founders we so smart as to create the best form of government the world has ever seen, but they never gave us a standard for reasonableness. How little he must think of them and their work — i.e., the Constitution. I would alter the context of the Constitution too if I thought like he did about our founders’ ineptness. Well if you read the fourth amendment a little further, then you will see what is considered unreasonable: unreasonable is anything without “probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (US Constitution) A few qualifiers for a reasonable search are probable cause, which means any evidence to suggest, along with at least one witness to observe the evidence, and a very narrow or specific location to search for the evidence that was seen. Nothing is lacking here.
  • Here is another Constitutional text “lacking” context provided by Barack Obama, “The constitutional text tells us that freedom of speech must be protect, but it doesn’t tell us what such freedom means in the CONTEXT of the Internet (emphasis mine)” (pg. 90, TAoH). Besides the blatant falsehood surrounding the idea that “the constitutional text tells us freedom of speech must be protected,” the context involving the medium of speech is irrelevant. The first amendment actually says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” (US Constitution) The first amendment clearly limits government action rather than calling it to action regarding speech. That being said, it is clear now that any speech being conducted on the Internet doesn’t change a thing with regard to government action — no action is granted or authorized.

I have no degree in constitutional law, and Barack Obama does — what kind of nonsense is being taught to the “experts” if I have to point out the obvious contradictions in their thinking?

I’ve highlighted the philosophy guiding Barack Obama’s thoughts and actions. I even pointed out some of its falsehood by identifying some of the philosophy’s contradictions. Now, I will briefly point out the rest of its errors and offer an alternative.

Metaphysics:
The errors in this category of Barack Obama’s philosophy go without saying. Contradictions do not exist and cannot exist. Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same respect. The fact he thinks contradictions exist is simply his admitting to the world that there is an error in his thinking.

Contradictions may exist in wording, but not in reality or conceptually. For example I might say a leaf is all red and all green at the same time. The contradiction is obvious; the leaf is green and not green at the same time and red and not red at the same time. The respect in this case is the color. Though it may be said in written or verbal words, it cannot, however, be the case in reality or conceptually. Can you conceptually think of a leaf that is all red and all green at the same time? All honest people will answer no. You will never find one in reality either.

This law of non-contradiction holds true for any true principle. This is what binds ideas to reality.

Epistemology:
Uncertainty arises out of an uncertain reality, but since reality is certain and non-contradictory then so can be your knowledge of reality. Additionally, an appeal to instinct and feelings are not a means to discover knowledge. Can you instinctually determine a coin flip? No? How about while using your feelings? Again, no. There is a certain means, however, of determining a coin flip: using your own eyes to determine for certain if it landed heads or tails. This is the simplest case, but no matter the complexities leading to truthful knowledge the essentials are the same: if an idea is true, then it must be consistent with reality and experience. All truthful ideas can be reduced back to simple observations because observations are our direct connection to reality.

If we live in a non-contradictory world, then we are free to discover it. Our means to discover truthful knowledge is reason, which is the non-contradictory integration of information, that we acquire through our senses, with the rest of our knowledge. Just as our senses cannot ever perceive a contradiction in reality because contradictions cannot exist, the integration of this information should not lead to a contradiction. So if we integrate that information correctly, then our knowledge is also non-contradictory.

We are volitional beings so we have the ability to choose between alternatives where a choice is possible. These choices range from beliefs to actions. This is where the possibility of errors arises. We can select what we believe is true or not. Errors can be made in what we consider true and errors can be made when we attempt to reason. Common experience demonstrates this to all honest inquirers. We have all made a mistake at one point in what we think is true, or at least the less honest among us will agree that we have observed others make that mistake.

Fortunately the process of obtaining knowledge through reason is self-correcting. Humans are fallible, and if we error, the error is in our integration for we accepted a contradiction somewhere in our thinking. The error can never be with reality or our senses because the process that makes our senses work (or don’t work) and reality itself functions independent of our volition; they cannot accept or produce a contradiction. Therefore, if you think you’re facing a contradiction, then check your previously integrated information — i.e., check your premises. One of your integrations will be wrong — i.e., it will be inconsistent with reality.

Ethics:
Our observation of reality and the application of reason force us to see that all living things under normal conditions act in their self-interest. Plants obtain water, nutrients, and sun light in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. Unreasoning animals seek shelter, water and food in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. As soon as their ability isn’t good enough they die. Once they die, then no actions are possible anymore. Man must discover, unlike plants and non-reasoning animals, what is in his self-interest, and his means of discovery is his rational mind. Just as he may make errors in thinking, so he may make errors in what is rationally good for him; however, the process is self-correcting for the same reason all false ideas and principle are self-correcting when using reason.

This idea, if true, blasts an irrecoverable hole in notion of moral relativism.  It suggests that an objective rational morality exists for man and can be discovered using reason.  This also eliminates the logical consequence of moral relativism: man’s natural state is war.  This notion suggests that there is no conflict of interest between rational men; they can live in harmony.

Politics:
If, as Barak Obama suggests, men are incapable of being certain, moral relativism reigns and constraint is necessary, then I have a few questions (proposed by Frederic Bastiat) for those men who wish to apply for roles within the suggested authoritarian government:

  1. Has anyone identified a satisfactory form of constraint?
  2. Can that person convince the mass amount of people who give preference to other forms of restraint?
  3. Will all men be able to give into that form of constraint, which in theory runs against all individual interests?
  4. Assuming that men will allow this new restraint to rule them, what will happen if an inventor discovers a different and better form? Are we to remain consistent, knowing our situation to be more vicious than it has to be, or are we to change our organization every day according to the caprices of fashions and utility that inventors’ brains may dictate.
  5. Wouldn’t the rest of the inventors, whose plans were rejected, united together against the one that has been selected? Wouldn’t their success be to the degree that the selected plan ran counter to individual interests?
  6. Last of all, does any human force or capability exist that is able to overcome the antagonism between all men that we suppose is natural and the very source of human action?

Frederic Bastiat continues: “Imight multiply such questions ad infinitum, and propose, for example, this difficulty:

“If individual interest is opposed to general interest, where are we to place the active principle of Constraint? Where is the fulcrum of the lever to be placed? Beyond the limits of human society? It must be so if we are to escape the consequence of your law. If we are to entrust some men with arbitrary power, prove first of all that these men are formed of a different clay from the other mortals; that they in their turn will not be acted upon by the fatal principle of self-interest; and that, placed in a situation that excludes the idea of any curb, any effective opposition, their judgments will be exempt from error, their hands from rapacity, and their hearts from covetousness.

“The radical difference between various Socialist schools (I mean here, those which seek the solution of social problems in artificial organization) and the Economist school, does not consist in certain views of detail or of governmental combination. We encounter that difference at the starting point, in a preliminary and pressing question: Are human interests, when left to themselves, antagonistic or harmonious?” (Harmonies of Political-Economics: Book I)

If reality is non-contradictory, reason is possible to all men and a rational ethical framework exists, then, by the standard of life for rational men, men can live harmoniously amongst one another so long as they secure their right to act on their rational judgment.

Man is capable of functioning in isolation and survives quite well. It is rationally in his better interest to work with other men to achieve common values, which would not be possible otherwise; like building structures, achieving technology, or more generally put: division and economy of labor. Man can achieve more values that further his life by dividing up the work load and trading each other’s achievements.

Rights are the proper ethics for man brought into a social/political context. It is their ethical requirement of life, but while living with other men. Men act to secure rights because their life requires that their rights are secured. The means to secure rights is banding together in self-defense — i.e., instituting governments among men.

Rights are unalienable and will remain unalienable because man’s life will always require them in a social/political context. Initiation of force against other men works directly against their ability to act in their rational self-interest and prevents any ethical actions — it forces men to act or not to act against their reasoning and judgment. Securing rights prevents the initiation of force, thus allowing men to peacefully reason with one another to achieve common goals. This is the connection between ethics and politics. This is the natural harmony between rational men.

Men may make errors in thinking and act to violate another’s rights. If this were not the case, then self-defense would have never been conceived in the minds of men. The police exist to prevent violations to rights domestically and the courts bring those who succeed in violating rights to justice. The military exists to prevent the violation of rights from foreign forces.

To sum up our journey, a correct and consistent philosophy is needed to replace Obama’s so that America can avoid destruction. The one that seems most likely to succeed in saving America is as follows:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality: Contradictions do not exist.
Epistemology: Reason: our means to eliminate contradictions in our thinking.
Ethics: Rational Self-Interest: all livings things must act in their self-interest; man must rationally act in his.
Politics: Secure Rights: governments are instituted by men so that man is safe to act in his rational self-interest in harmony amongst other men.

What is reason?  What does it mean to be rational or irrational?

Like any muscle, the brain and knowledge can atrophy without use.  More specifically to this case, past lessons learned by intellectual giants — Aristotle (the father of reason’s method), Aquinas (assisted the rebirth of reason), and our founding fathers (who applied reason in forming a country) — have not been taught to new generations; therefore, reason has been forgotten and has become a word which is tied more closely to a feeling or an emotion than to a conceptual understanding of the word.  The vast majority of people do not understand precisely what reason is and why it’s important.  These answers can be reached while studying the branch of philosophy called epistemology — the study knowledge.

Knowledge, if it is to have any meaning, is our grasp and understanding of facts about reality.  So while metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, which studies reality, epistemology is a study of our ability to discover and know reality.  We are able to interact with reality using our senses; eyes to see that which exists, ears to hear it, nose to smell it, tongue to taste it, and skin to touch it.  We have a direct perception of reality, but now what do we do with it?  We know that an object is, but we do not yet know what it is.

Unlike animals, which appear to simply perceive and react, we have the ability to process that information on a conceptual level to determine what that object is and choose our actions.  Our ability to integrate that information into the entire context of what we already know is the nature of our mental faculty.  Reason is that mental faculty, which takes precepts, and identifies and integrates that material. 

Given the nature of reason, we do not and cannot automatically know anything about realty — we are not born with instincts — we must learn.  We are not nor can we be automatically correct either — there is a correct method of coming to correct conclusions and eliminating errors in our thinking.  That correct method is logic, which is the art of non-contradictory identification (of facts about reality).

A contradiction is a thing which is described to have at least two attributes which cannot coexist.  Written mathematically, a thing which is A and non-A at the same time in the same respect — e.g., a leaf which is all green and all red at the same time.  Red is non-green and green is non-red, so the leaf is green and non-green, as well as red and non-red, at the same time (the same respect being color) — that’s impossible.

The law of non-contradiction is a corollary of the law of identity, which simply states a thing is itself.  Written mathematically, A is A.  If A is A, then A cannot be B unless B is a subset of A — meaning, A includes B — otherwise, it would be a contradiction.  For example, a particular leaf is a certain type of entity with certain attributes; it will have a shape, color, texture, and many other attributes that represent the facts about that leaf.  When you select a different leaf, it will have many similarities, but it will have differences too.  All the characteristics of one leaf cannot be the same as another leaf — something must be different because each leaf has its own identity.  When you select, say a refrigerator instead of a leaf, there will be very few similarities and many differences.  The law of identity simply focuses on the entities existence — we know that it exists — which posses certain attributes and they will not contradict — that is the answer to what it is.

Logic, being the art of non-contradictory identification, means it’s the proper application of the law of identity, which means the proper identification of what the facts about reality are.  Any contradiction reached in a process of thinking is the same as admitting an error, which means an improper identification of the facts about reality, since contradictions do not exist.

Given all of the above, we can define more precisely what our terms mean.  Reason is that mental faculty, which takes precepts, and correctly identifies and integrates that material through the correct application of the law of identity — the term correct, which was implicit, is now made explicit.  To be rational is the act of using reason.  Non-reason is the attempt to use your mental faculty other than that of reason, which  is attempts to identify and integrate material though any means other than using precepts and the correct application of the law of identity.  To be Irrational is the act of using non-reason.

Now that we know what reason is, why is it important?  In short, it is our only means to knowledge. Knowledge, if you remember, is our grasp and understanding of facts about reality.  (It is implicit and understood that they are correct grasps of reality).  You can claim to grasp and understand, but that does not mean you do.  Without the use of reason, understanding of facts of reality is impossible. 

To put this to the test, let’s suppose we flip a coin; how will you determine if it lands heads or tails?  You will use your senses to perceive the coin and apply the law of identity to limit the outcome to one solution — either it landed heads or tails, but not both at the same time.  Now let’s use this example, but suppose you can’t use your senses.  Can you grasp the facts of reality to determine an outcome – no, you cannot.  You could guess, but how would you validate your guess without the use of reason (in this case, without your senses)?  Now let’s suppose, instead of not using your senses, you improperly apply the law of identity; so it landed heads and you see heads, but you think tails instead.  Again, you did not arrive at the proper understanding of the facts of reality — you made an error somewhere in your thinking.

You may be asking, so what?  Why are any of these simple things important?  Well, the answer is simple: this process is as true for complex things as it is for simple things — the parts cannot contradict the whole.  Reason is our means to understand simple or complex facts about reality.  Once you grasp a firm, complete, precise understanding of what reason is and why it’s important, then you can continue to discover facts about reality in more complex branches of philosophy, such as ethics (the study of how man should act) or politics (the study of how man should act in a social context).  Just remember though, contradictions do not exist.

Whatever you may think you know or may ever hope to know, keep the following in mind: contradictions do not exist.  Most people, who exercise some capacity of rational thought, understand that absolute.  Just to be clear about reason; it is our metal faculty which takes our precepts and integrates that information within the entire context of our existing knowledge in a non-contradictory manner.  The issue is, however, when we think we’re facing a contradiction, our default assumption is to eliminate the new information — that is an error.

 Man is capable of error, so when facing a contradiction, wouldn’t it be prudent to challenge what you already know on a rational standard to see if you made an error?  What’s the worst that could happen?  You continue to revalidate your initial assumptions based on rational standards?  What’s the best that could happen?  You discover an error in your thinking and you correct it.  (The value in correcting one’s thinking should be plain).

 To guide your thinking, become familiar with the Laws of Thought: Law of Identity, Law of Excluded Middle, and Law of Non-Contradiction.  Why?  Most understand, at least implicitly, the Primacy of Existence; the next logical step is conforming your thoughts to Law of Identity — i.e., the Supremacy of Reason — the result being the elimination of any contradictions that may exist in your thinking.

 We know through observation, and the Law of Identity as applied to man, that man must use reason to survive — reason is man’s basic tool of survival qua man.  Man must create material values (route water, plant and grow food, build shelters, etc.) to survive; values do not preexist for him — he lacks claws for defense, fur or hide for warmth or protection, and preexisting knowledge to serve as instinct.  Any form of creation, from tools to a skyscraper, requires a process of thought – “what is it that I want to achieve, and how do I do it”? 

 In determining how do accomplish something, man must determine the identity of certain objects.  In something as simple as planting, for example, he has to understand that the identity of plants obligates certain requirements for the plant to flourish — the roots must be buried in dirt with plenty of nutrients, the leaves must have access to an adequate amount of photons, and the plant requires access to the right amount of water.  Man must discover how to accomplish these tasks and in what order.  None of this can be achieved by a process of non-thinking, and most importantly, none of his thinking can be effective unless he accurately identifies the facts of reality — i.e. he thinks rationally — and acts accordingly.

 In the spirit of rooting out contradictions, perhaps the most important historical tenant, that is taken as an absolute, which requires challenging on a rational standard, is the principle of otherism — i.e. altruism.  Why is altruism accepted without question?  Is it because altruism has no rational foundation?  Why is questioning altruism — i.e. using your rational faculty to challenge it — considered inhumane?  Isn’t rational thought, as we observed, necessarily a human requirement?  So, thought is obligatory in creating values, but the absence of thought is obligatory in how to dispose of those values? 

 And therein lays the contradiction: man’s identity obligates rational thought, while altruism (thus far) obligates its absence — how can it be obligatory to think and not to think?  If you wish to eliminate every contradiction in your thinking, then altruism either requires a rational foundation or it’s patently false.  Use this opportunity to start your rational journey into the field of ethics, root out the error, and eliminate the contradiction — whatever it may be. 

 Let’s hear what you discovered.  Does a rational foundation exist for altruism or is it doomed as irrational?  You might be wondering what could possibly replace altruism.  Catch a glimpse of it here.

“Altruism holds that being moral consists in self-sacrificially serving others. Despite its self-destructive nature, altruism is accepted to some extent by almost everyone today. Of course, no one upholds it consistently—at least not for long. Rather, most people accept it as true—and then cheat on it.

“All religionists—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—are altruists. Their holy books demand it. All so-called “Secular Humanists”—Utilitarians, Postmodernists, and Egalitarians—are altruists. Their philosophies demand it.

“From the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim points of view…” [Continued]

No one can escape this undeniable truth: freedom must be earned—if not by you, then by the grace and generosity of your betters. To earn is to apply intelligent effort to achieve an outcome—which presupposes a mind able to think and use reason in order to distinguish truth from non-truth. The more valuable the goal then the more worthwhile the intelligent effort is in achieving it. Freedom being the most valuable thing an individual can earn, it is only fitting that it’s the hardest thing to obtain and maintain. Through all of recorded history, it wasn’t until the climax of the Enlightenment that a political system was designed and implemented to defend liberty—early attempts were made before, but none as successful as the U.S. Constitution. Our Constitution is a guard against tyranny; but just like its utter uselessness in the hands of mindless barbarians, who do not even know the reasons for their own traditions, so it is useless in the hands of mindless politicians elected by thoughtless constituents. It would almost take a mind as great as our framers—and just as thirsty for liberty—to preserve our political system that guards individual freedom. A mind that is simply acquiescent to the greatness of our framers’ design is not enough to secure liberty for he is defenseless against the senseless—how is he to know the difference?

“If it ain’t broken, then don’t fix it… but how do you go about maintaining it?” Just like a properly functioning motor needs maintenance from time to time, so does liberty—as Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” When a motor ceases to operate or ceases to operate well, it will take an understanding mind to ascertain a solution. When a man suggests adding water to the fuel tank or mulch to the engine, how would you know that to be wrong unless you know something about the essence and nature of motors? When a man tells you that the only way to secure liberty is to take it away, how would you know that to be an error unless you know something about the essence and nature of liberty? There may be a lot of good choices when it comes to properly maintaining a motor, but there are infinitely more bad choices—so it is with preserving liberty—how are you to know the difference?

The first step to maintain our system of liberty is to discover liberty’s true essence, nature and importance—aside from what others tell you. The second step is to learn the true essence, nature and importance of our constitutional republic’s inner workings—aside from what others tell you. If you have no interest in discovering the difference or you don’t think that you are capable of understanding it, then you have already surrendered the right to liberty long ago and whatever individual freedoms you do enjoy you owe to men better than yourself; but then again, how are you to know the difference?

To know the difference requires learning the truth and contrasting that knowledge from the thick fog of non-truth. That particular journey is quite long and perhaps it can never be fully completed; but once significant progress is made, the subsequent steps to preserving liberty and our system will come quite naturally. I suggest that you start now for your time to act is running out.

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” — Judge Learned Hand

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure. To suppose liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.” — James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788

Suggested Reading to Understand Liberty and Our System:
Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
The U.S. Declaration of Independence
The U.S. Constitution
The Federalist papers
Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand
The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand
For the New Intellectual, by Ayn Rand
Men in Black, by Mark Levin
End the Fed, by Ron Paul
Meet the System, by Joseph Plummer
Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, by Yaron Brook

Suggested Reading to Understand The Contrast
:
The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, by Ludwig Von Mises
The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek